Friday, April 5, 2013

Baseball: NJAC Freedom race off to wild early start

As expected, the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference Freedom Division is as wide open as can be just two games into a very young season.

Jefferson and Newton reside in first place at 2-0 in divisional play, while surprisingly, Kittatinny is 0-2 and at the bottom of the standings.

Jefferson figured to be in a bit of a rebuilding mode with the loss of 14 seniors -- and all of its innings on the mound from last year's team that won 22 games and the American Division title. Seems like Falcons coach Jason Kalish may have been sandbagging on this year's club, which improved to 4-0 with Friday's 8-7 win over Pequannock.

Newton was expected to challenge for the top spot, as coach John Selitto was especially high on the Braves in the preseason. They started off with a rather large 7-5 win in eight innings on Tuesday over Wallkill Valley, which had won five straight and eight of the previous nine meetings in the series. Justin Smith plated the go-ahead run with a safety squeeze in the top of the eighth.

Newton's previous win over Wallkill was 5-4 on April 14, 2010. The Braves closed out league play this week with Friday's 11-6 win over Hackettstown, which sits at 1-1, along with Lenape Valley, North Warren and Wallkill Valley. Hopatcong also is 0-2 with Kittatinny.

North Warren opened with a 7-0 loss to Jefferson, before evening its division slate with Friday's 7-4 win over Lenape Valley -- the Warren County school's first NJAC win since coming over from the Skyland Conference this season.

Skyland scene

Delaware Valley (1-2) nearly pulled off a stunner on Thursday in a tough 3-2 loss to Ridge. The Terriers led, 2-1, heading into the top of the seventh, but the Red Devils scored twice to take the lead and avoid the upset.

Coach Marty White's Terriers opened the week with a 6-0 independent win over Hopatcong, before a 5-3 loss to Voorhees in a Raritan Division clash played in frigid temperatures in Alexandria Township on Tuesday.

Phillipsburg (0-4) is off to the toughest of starts -- getting outscored, 43-3, in its four losses. The Stateliners dropped an 18-0 decision to Ridge on Monday before a 10-0 loss to Montgomery the following day. Coach Dave Hinkle's team was competitive in a 4-2 loss to Wilson (Pa.) on Wednesday.

Warren Hills (1-2) rebounded from an 11-8 loss to Somerville in its opener on Tuesday to earn a 7-1 win over Voorhees in another Raritan Division matchup on Thursday. Winning pitcher Nathaniel Capone held the Vikings to just five hits, while Shea Kohler (2-for-3, double, RBI) was among five Blue Streaks with multiple hits. Coach Mike Quinto's club, which lost 13-2 to Montgomery on Friday, has a big local showdown at home with Delaware Valley on Thursday, April 11.

North Hunterdon opened some eyes with a 12-6 win over Hunterdon Central on Thursday -- the Lions' fifth win in the last seven meetings with the Red Devils. The teams split their Delaware Division contests the previous two seasons, while North Hunterdon swept the season set in 2010.

Round trippers

Sussex Tech is off to a 2-1 start under first-year coach Brad Szatkiewicz, who won his debut, 13-3, against Morris Tech on Monday. Chris Manzi belted a homer and had five RBIs, while winning pitcher Chris McNulty fanned seven. The Mustangs lost 8-2 to 13th Street Tech on Wednesday, but bounced back with Friday's 6-1 win over Notre Dame.

Pope John (2-1) continued its hold on High Point with Tuesday's 4-2 victory in Sparta. Winning pitcher Ethan Collins, one of the top arms in Northwest Jersey, tossed a three-hitter with six strikeouts. The Lions have won seven in a row against the Wildcats (0-2), whose last win in the series was, 5-4, on April 27, 2009. 

Lenape Valley's 4-0 win over Kittatinny was a good way to open the NJAC Freedom slate for coach Bob Klinck's Patriots (2-1), who dropped both meetings against the Cougars in 2012. Coach Brian Bosworth's Cougars are struggling at the plate, scoring one run in their two losses.

No comments:

Post a Comment